The following two-part article has been designed to help you improve your ability to fill or solo using syncopated jazz figures amidst an underlying pulse of 8th-note triplets. The ideas presented here will help you solo more effectively, aid in your interpretation of jazz phrasing, improve eye-hand coordination, and benefit your reading ability as well.
Let’s first look at a basic figure. Keep in mind that all 8th-note rhythms throughout this article are to be played with a jazz 8th-note feel.
Let’s take it one step further by playing a few bars of 8th-note triplets without accents.
At this point, we will combine the triplet feel and the rhythmic figure by playing the syncopated rhythm in the form of accents above the 8th note triplets. Be sure to play the non-accented notes much softer than the accented ones, so that the syncopated figure stands out above the underlying triplets. (Use alternate single sticking throughout: RLRL, etc.)
Once you’ve fully absorbed the concept, you should apply the same idea to more complex figures. Try the following examples, and play them slowly at first. Increase the tempo gradually with each of the ten rhythms below.
After you’ve gained facility with all of the preceding rhythms, go back to the first exercise and add the bass drum on beats 1,2, 3, and 4, and the hi-hat on 2 and 4. Take each one slowly and strive for accuracy.
Now, get out your copy of Ted Reed’s Progressive Steps To Syncopation For The Modern Drummer, and turn to page 33. Begin on page 33, and proceed through page 36 playing each four-bar exercise in the same manner as previously outlined. The triplets and accents are not written for you at this point, so proceed cautiously, making certain that each exercise is being executed accurately. After you’ve mastered each pattern from the book, you should be ready to move on to a 16-bar solo exercise. Don’t forget the bass drum and hi-hat.
For further practice, proceed through each of the syncopation solo exercises from the Ted Reed book (pages 37 to 44) using the same concept.
In Part 2 of this article, we’ll look at applying a unison bass drum part, moving the figures around the drumset, and the use of triplet pulsed rolls, to further extend the use of this technique.